The return of Law & Order: SVU is still weeks away, but some news about the cast has already shaken up what fans have been expecting from the upcoming Season 24. Kelli Giddish, who has played Amanda Rollins going back to Season 13, is leaving the show. As one of the longest-running stars outside of Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T in the post-Stabler era, Giddish’s absence will be a game-changer, so let’s break down what it likely means for the new season.
Kelli Giddish announced that Season 24 will be her last of Law & Order: SVU on Instagram, saying that playing Rollins “has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life.” She reflected on starting with this character when she was in her late 20s, and the “incredible work” from Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay, former showrunner Warren Leight, NBC, the crew, and her co-stars (among others) that she’s grateful for. She didn’t reveal why she is leaving, but said that she’s “so excited to take all the things I have learned in my time on ‘SVU’ and put them toward everything that’s next to come.”
Although her reveal was a major bombshell, it was short on details beyond her departure. NBC hasn’t officially commented at the time of writing, but TVLine reports that Kelli Giddish’s final episode as Rollins will air at some point in the first half of Season 24. The outlet cites a source saying that the character will experience a trauma early on in the season (which is starting with a three-show crossover with Organized Crime and the original Law & Order). Whether this fresh trauma leads to her departure is unclear at this time.
So, with very little actually known other than that she’s leaving and seemingly doing so before the end of 2022, what does it mean for the next batch of episodes? Without knowing how she’ll be written out, the most we can really speculate about is how it will affect those she leaves behind, so let's get into it!
Rollins And Carisi's Relationship Might Be Doomed
Law & Order: SVU’s lightest ongoing storyline in Season 23 had to be the romance between Rollins and Peter Scanavino’s Carisi, as they finally locked lips in the previous season finale after many years of will-they-won’t-they. All signs for the future were looking bright back in the spring, even with Rollins’ absence in multiple episodes. Carisi was ready to propose, and had seemingly settled right into the family unit with her and her daughters. Alas, unless news soon breaks that Peter Scanavino is also leaving or SVU plans to continue the relationship with Rollins off-screen, it seems that the end may be nigh for the Rollisi romance.
Carisi Has A Rough Road Ahead
No matter what happens that Rollins is no longer around, it’s safe to say that Carisi is going to have a tough time after seeing her nearly every day for a long time. He held a torch for Rollins for years before they finally got together, and even introduced her to his mom. Hopefully the end is somewhat open-ended enough that he won’t be completely devastated, but a lot depends on how SVU says goodbye to her. New showrunner David Graziano said in the comments of Giddish’s post that it’ll be his “lucky day if I ever get to write for her again,” which hopefully at least means that she won’t be killed off.
The New Cop Might Be Rollins’ Replacement
Chicago P.D. and FBI: Most Wanted alum Molly Burnett (seen above in the latest season of Most Wanted) has joined SVU Season 24 to play Detective Grace Muncy in what was originally described as a recurring role. No further details have been announced, but her arrival in the same season that says goodbye to Rollins could mean that she’ll replace Giddish’s character. It’s hard to imagine the unit operating with just Benson, Fin, and Velasco for very long, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Burnett is bumped up to series regular status at some point during Season 24. She is coming on board prior to however Rollins leaves, however, as proven by a BTS pic featuring both actresses.
Benson Is Losing A Trusted Friend In The Unit
Olivia Benson has relatively few people in her life who she counts as very close friends and hasn’t lost at this point, even if the loss is as simple as Cragen retiring or as temporary as Stabler leaving. Rollins is an important person to Benson, and their interactions often bring out more of Benson’s personality than she can show when she’s in Captain mode. Mariska Hargitay’s character will of course still have the trusty Fin by her side, and may make a decision that affects how often she sees Stabler after how the Season 23 finale ended, but I know I’ll miss seeing Benson and Rollins together.
Special Victims Is Losing A Veteran Detective
Even though Benson and Fin have more than 40 years of Special Victims experience between them, Velasco was new to the unit in Season 23, and the loss of Rollins means that the unit is losing a detective with a lot of experience in these sensitive crimes. The description for the new detective suggests that she’s coming in with experience with gangs rather than in a different Special Victims squad. With Carisi an ADA and Stabler presumably not jumping ship from Organized Crime to pick up his Special Victims duties again, the unit may face some investigative struggles as well as personal losses without Rollins and her 10+ years of experience.
While it’s certainly sad news that Rollins is leaving just when she seemed to be happier and more at peace with herself than ever before, at least she wasn’t written out over hiatus. It sounds like SVU is also bringing her back for more than just the premiere, contrary to what happened with Jamie Gray Hyder’s Kat back at the beginning of Season 23. (Hyder did say that she’d be interested in returning to SVU, so hopefully the same will be true for Giddish.)
I’m just hoping that she’s given as happy an ending as possible, and isn’t killed off. It’s hard to imagine an entirely happy departure considering the relationship with Carisi, but I’m going to cross my fingers for whatever the best-case scenario turns out to be.
If you want to revisit earlier seasons of Kelli Giddish as Amanda Rollins, you can find the full series so far streaming with a Hulu subscription. You can also look forward to her return for Season 24 with the premiere on Thursday, September 22 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, between Season 22 of Law & Order at 8 p.m. and Season 3 of Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. in the 2022 TV premiere schedule.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).